People with ADHD have smaller brain volume

21st Feb 2017

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has often been believed to be a label for children who are simply difficult, however this study has shown to provide scientific evidence for ADHD to be disorder on par with others, e.g. Autism.

The largest brain-imaging study to be conducted of people with ADHD and those without has shown that people with ADHD have a smaller brain volume.

The researchers used brain images of 1,713 people who had been diagnosed with ADHD and 1,529 people who had not. The participants were aged between 4-63 years old and had 7 areas of their brain measured. 

The researchers found five areas to be affected in people with ADHD, showing a smaller volume in each section. Two of the areas affected were the amygdala and the hippocampus, each involved with regulation of emotion and motivation and emotional problems respectively. The differences of brain volume found were most prominent within the children's brain scans compared to the adults' brains, this lead the researchers to suggest that ADHD may be characterised by delayed brain development.

The results confirm that people with ADHD have differences in their brain structure and therefore suggest that ADHD is a disorder of the brain. This study helps the case that ADHD does have a biological basis and helps to reduce the stigma that ADHD is not something created socially.

Future research would be to conduct a longitudinal study to reveal changes over time, which would then test this preliminary finding of ADHD being associated with delayed brain development.

To read the full article, visit The Lancet Website.

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